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Leaving the station we found ourselves at the edge of the sprawling arms of the inner city. Dense enough to get lost in but there were the odd patches of green space between the too close buildings. I hailed a cab and requested the nearest, cheapest hotel. I had mentally kissed my lovely expense account goodbye the second I switched sides and I had a feeling Hel didn’t come with large amounts of walking around cash. The short journey was marked by an unearthly silence from my client and three near misses from our driver. I shot glances at my new employer but she seemed unperturbed by the whole situation. I couldn’t tell if the close calls were because we were riding with the goddess of the dead or a happy coincidence. Trust me to pick the side that will probably get me killed the quickest.

We clambered out of the cab no more the worse for wear. The driver seemed unfazed by the journey as he took off down the road leaving us to find our own way into the quaint hotel. Squashed between a small cafe and a barber shop, the single unassuming door lead us through to a room that time had forgotten. I was one to speak seeing as my own office consisted of a single desk, a ruined couch, and several filing cabinets in various stages of decomposition, but it came off as minimal or so I had been told. This hotel lobby took the prize for dated though. Wallpaper, that I’m fairly sure was older than I was, adorned the walls with just as many years of dust on them. The small check-in desk was panelled in fake wood and topped with an orange laminate that hurt your eyes to look at for too long. I rang the tarnished bell on the desk and waited, trying to avoid the eyesores that passed for art around the room.

Before long a middle aged man appeared from an archway behind the desk. His greying hair danced around the fringes of his scalp ageing him beyond his time. Walking slowly up to the desk the clerk, or possibly the owner, opened an old leather bound ledger.
‘It’s twenty pound a night. Twenty five if you want an en suite. Name.’ He said in a tired cockney accent.
‘Orpheus Oeagrus. And we’ll take the en suite if you don’t mind.’ The name I gave got a reaction from both the clerk and my travelling partner. I stared back at the clerk blankly. ‘My mother comes from a long line of strict Grecians.’ As if that explained everything. He shrugged and said it was none of his business anyway, signing us in and handing over the keys. I guided the slightly perplexed Hel up the small staircase and into our room.

Opening the door I saw that the room was no better decorated than the lobby. The floral bedspread alone almost made me physically ill. I left Hel to wander in while I headed for the bathroom cabinet, haphazardly throwing my coat over the nearest chair as I passed. There I found a simple travel sewing kit, I took the needle and thread and hunted for the mini bar.
‘On the bed.’ I commanded, albeit gently. I rummaged through the tiny bottles and grabbed two before following the goddess over to the bed. She stood looking at me confused. I held up the thread and said, ‘I’m going to fix your leg. Lay down on the bed.’ I suddenly realised that this could get messy and even though I wasn’t attached to the bedspread I went to fetch a towel. When I returned Hel was laying awkwardly on the bed, stiff as a board. I stood above her and just looked. Even though I had been in the presence of Aphrodite, goddess of love herself, I still found Hel to be one of the most alluring women I had ever met. Goddess or otherwise.

I must have been staring too long as she shifted her eyes to look at me, a disapproving frown growing on her lips. I cleared my throat and sat down on the bed, arranging the towel under her leg and arranging the various supplies around me. Soaking the needle and thread in a small vodka bottle I peeled back the bandage from her bloody leg. The wound didn’t look that bad under the dull hotel lights. I could see now that it was a relatively clean shot, the bullet passed through and through. A coin sized entry wound had a match around the back of her calf, both were bleeding slowly but steadily. I removed the needle and thread, pouring the remaining alcohol over the wound. The vodka turned pink as it swirled and mixed with her blood, running down the side of her leg and staining the off white hotel towels, still she didn’t make a sound or move. I unscrewed the second bottle and tipped it back into my mouth. The liquid warmed my throat as it slid down. I shook involuntarily, clearing my head. ‘This might hurt. A lot.’ I threaded the needle and took a deep breath. It was bad enough when I did this to myself, doing it to the goddess of the underworld was nerve racking.

The needle pieced her flesh and I started to weave the top wound together, pulling the thread tightly. It was then that she started to scream. The goddess sat bolt upright, her eyes wild with shock and pain as I tried my best to continue threading the needle through her skin. I had to press her leg down with my free arm and lean heavily to stop her leg from jarring upwards. Sounds were coming from her that I’ve never heard from a human’s mouth before. Noises that sent ripples along my spine, echoing through every bone in my body. Her eyes were glowing bright red again. I tried not to look at her and focused instead on suturing the wound as quickly as I possibly could, which wasn’t an easy task.

She fell back onto the bed hands covering her face as I finished up the last few stitches. I bit the thread off and tipped more vodka over the wound. Her light coloured flesh striped black with ten tight stitches crossing over a mountain of angry red flesh. I could hear her ragged breathing as she dealt with the pain subsiding. Sadly it wasn’t quite over yet.
‘Roll over.’ I said gently, but commandingly. She complied, albeit it hesitantly, exposing the exit wound on the bottom of her leg. I didn’t bother waiting and, after threading the needle again, started closing up the wound. The pain reaction wasn’t as bad as the first time, but I could hear a muffled whimpering coming from the goddess as she cried into the bed spread. Of course I could have been mistaken.

Once finished I stood up and threw the empty bottles and remaining sewing equipment into the nearest bin. I washed my hands in the bathroom, blood of the goddess flowing down the sink as I cleansed my hands. Back in the room I reached into my coat pocket and fetched a fresh roll of bandages. Hel was laying face up on the bed, her two tone hair spread around her like a halo, the light and the dark. Life and death. The duality of the universe, and human nature spread out before me, in pain and afraid. Getting over my theological philosophising, I sat back down at her feet and started to tenderly wrap the wound. She began to calm down slowly as I bound her leg. ‘Worst of it’s over.’ I said trying to be reassuring, not quite sure if I was or not. She raised her head and looked at me like I had just told her Odin was at the door wanting to borrow a cup of sugar.

‘I’ve never felt pain like that before.’ She said, her voice in slight rasps, her face full of worry more than anything.
‘Why didn’t it hurt before, when I cleaned it and when you got shot earlier?’ I queried. My hands cupping her calf as I smooth the bandage down, they lingered a little longer than necessary. I let them drop away awkwardly as I realised what I was doing.
‘It didn’t hurt.’ She said thinking back. ‘It wasn’t until you started sewing up my leg that it did. Which it shouldn’t do. My powers might be slipping away the longer I stay here. Soon I might be like one of you.’ I was grateful that she didn’t spit the last part out like so many of her omniscient peers. They were all quick to snub us foolish mortals, yet she didn’t. If anything it sounded like pity which I guess is worse. Poor foolish mortals. Bound to this world and headed towards death and nothing more.

Strangely I felt compelled to bundle her up, hold her tight, and say everything was going to be alright. I shook away the feeling quickly but the hum of compassion still rang through me. Instead, I got up off the bed and moved over to the lone chair to place some distance between us, and to stop myself from going to an early grave because I couldn’t control my hands. Not since Aphrodite had I had this problem. My strong sense of self preservation usually kicks in before I do anything too stupid, but with the goddess of love around sometimes you’re not completely in control. This feeling was less intrusive however, it felt like I was the one driving things and it was mostly enjoyable. My concern was that the woman I was crushing on happened to be the resident deity in the underworld where your’s truly was inevitably headed. Was this feeling even mutual or entirely in my stupid mind? I looked into her red tinted eyes and she looked back just as intently, was that a smile? How does one exactly tell a goddess that you think you’d be better off as friends?

‘So.’ I started, steepling my hands in front of me trying to focus on something other than Hel. ‘Baldr has escaped from Hel, both the place and the goddess, he’s on the run knowing you’d be soon behind him. Where does he go?’
She moved herself up on the bed, leaning back against the headrest to face me.
‘We’re talking about the case now?’ She asked.
‘Good a time as any. Unless you have an objection, some religious principal that prevents us discussing escaped gods on the midday Sabbath?’ She shook her head no, and again I thought I caught a glimpse of a smile but decided to brush it off as a grimace from residual pain. ‘Why were you at Stonehenge?’ I asked.
‘I was following him.’ She explained, smoothing out her hair with her hands. ‘He was moving along the country. A glowing man is very easy to spot just as he is hard to hide.’ I fished out the crinkled map from my back pocket.
‘That’s what these crosses were for then?’ I asked showing her the paper. More nodding.
‘Yes. I used the newspapers at the hotel to see if anyone had reported a glowing man or strange occurrences of happiness or love and then tracked them on the map.’
‘Love?’ I queried.
‘Baldr has a unique ability to make everyone love him. Well, almost everyone. Loki still remains unaffected by this. After spending millennia with Baldr by my side I’ve determined that mostly this is because he’s one of purest gods I know. That and he radiates harmony, which seems to come out in a glowing light.’ I may have rolled my eyes at the idea of ‘glowing harmony’ but didn’t interrupt.
‘Nothing will hurt him bar mistletoe, which is how he ended up with me.’ She sighed and looked lazily around the room not wanting to make eye contact.

‘You miss him don’t you?’ I asked, urging myself not to push my luck. She didn’t answer so I moved on. ‘Where do you think he was headed? There’s nothing of interest to a Norse god at Stonehenge. Apart from attracting other Norse gods of course.’ I said motioning towards her to prove my point. That definitely got a smile out of her. It was small but her lips turned up slightly and she locked eyes with me. I wasn’t entirely sure why it mattered that much to me but I’m glad I could get her to smile, even a little. I smiled back at her.
‘Look at my manners, I haven’t even offered the lady a drink yet. Not counting the one I poured over your leg.’ I walked over to the mini bar and grabbed a handful of small bottles and dumped them beside her on the bed. I sat down on the mattress facing her and started sorting the mixture. ‘Here,’ I said handing her another vodka bottle and taking the mini bar sized bottle of Jack. I uncapped mine and offered it up to a toast.

She looked a little lost but uncapped her own bottle and we chimed our small bottles together. ‘To the gods.’ I said out of habit.
‘Skål.’ She replied and we both drank. Hel knocked hers back in almost one swig. I was impressed until I realised it was because she’d apparently never drunk sprits before and started coughing like an old Ford in need of servicing. I took the bottle away from her so she could focus on the liquor burning down her throat. When she could speak again it was in a horse rasp, making her voice sound even more gravelly.
‘What in the nine worlds was that?’ She asked wheezing. I laughed.
‘Surely you’ve had vodka before. I thought you Norse types suckled mead at your mothers breast from the moment you were created.’ I knocked my own drink back, finishing it off. The small bottle of Tennessee Whiskey left me wanting more but any port in a storm is good enough for me. She reached out for the rest of her drink and I handed it over, warning her to take it slow. She scowled at me and finished the bottle.
‘We Norse, as you say, are proud drinkers mortal. Don’t you be forgetting that.’ She picked up another bottle from the pile and started on that. I followed close behind, smiling.
‘A woman after my own heart. I like that.’

We sat silently on the bed for a while enjoying the shared silence. It wasn’t till later that I remembered a question that had, as yet, gone unanswered. Judging by the more relaxed and comfortable demeanour of the goddess I thought answers might be a little more forthcoming now.
‘Where do we look next, goddess of the land of mists? Your glowing man had obviously been and gone by the time we even thought about Stonehenge.’ Her face had developed a slight rose tint which stood out against her usual light, pale complexion. I could see the blush disappear down her neckline but my view was obscured by the black hoodie she wore. My eyes forced themselves to look upwards and onto her face, it was a hard struggle but decency won in the end. I wasn’t sure if she noticed or even cared. What’s it to a goddess that some drunk mortal tries to check her out? She raised a half empty bottle of bourbon up to her pursed lips as she pondered the question.

‘Originally,’ she said, looking directly at me. ‘Originally I thought he would head home as quickly as possible. Which is why I stayed at the hotel. The portals there work both ways, but he never showed. Then I saw the newspaper articles and started following him from there.’
I lent back on my arms and thought about it all. A god who escapes the underworld comes out at the Midgar Hotel and the first thing he does is goes and visits a Druidic religious site. Hel herself comes to the mortal realm to find him and I’m seemingly hired by her cult to find her. Things weren’t adding up.
‘What if,’ I thought out loud. ‘The newspaper articles and sightings were all hoaxes designed to lead you away from him.’ Hel shook her head no.
‘He’s smart, and very clever but he’s not into deception. Lies tarnish the good nature of his soul.’ I raised my eyebrows at this revelation.
‘If that’s true then my soul is in desperate need of polishing.’ That elicited a small laugh. ‘Don’t laugh, you’ll have to put up with my filthy soul sooner than you think my dear.’ We smiled at each other, despite the oddly morbid conversation. She composed her self slightly, the rosy grin still present on her face.
‘Who would lead me to those stones then, and why? What does it get them apart from more time?’

I already had the answer. It had been bugging me since we entered the room. I pointed to her leg wound. ‘That. They were trying to lure you away from London so you would be forced to stay in this world longer. All the while your godly powers are fading into the background. There were two other men waiting for you in that car park and I’m guessing that they wouldn’t have aimed for your leg.’
She looked down at the bandaged wrapped tightly around her calf. Her jeans splayed out and blood stained, casting a black background for her pale skin. ‘Someone was trying to kill me?’ She said eventually. I shook my head.
‘I’m fairly sure that they wouldn’t have killed you. Just incapacitated you. You’re still a goddess and deep down there would be something to protect you. Your power base is almost infinite, as long as there are people who will die you’ll always have worshipers. I’m guessing that you would have been dragged off to some remote place and just made to wait this whole thing out, whatever it is.’

She shuffled forward and crossed her legs gingerly, trying not to aggravate the wound on her leg. Hel’s denim covered leg brushed against mine, I didn’t pull away and let our legs touch in an overly familiar way. It was a conscious decision that I hoped sent a message. From the knowing look in her dull red eyes I’d say the message was received loud and clear. That or I was about to find out the limitations of her godly powers by seeing how long it would take for her to send me down to her realm in small pieces. I silently pleaded to Aphrodite that it was the former and not the latter, but thought better of it seeing as the goddess of love merely tolerated me at best. I lent forward slightly, slowly running my hand up her good leg, resting it firmly at the top of her thigh. It was a bold move sure, but wars and love weren’t won by cowards, no matter how much I wished they were for my own sake.

The goddess responded by leaning in closer. I have never been more acutely aware that I’m not the most attractive man in the world, and my two day old clothes probably didn’t help matters. However, those thoughts were pushed quickly from my mind when our eyes locked, and soon after our lips met. My hand chased away stray black hairs from her face and curled around the back of her head as I pushed into her. We broke momentarily for air, our foreheads touching and eyes open. This close to her face I lost myself in the swirling pattern of red that swam around her black irises, her eyes wide with hunger and anticipation. I pushed my fears and doubts down into the back of my mind and focused on the growing feeling of lust and comfort that radiated around her and through me. Her godly presence at this distance was oppressive and made it hard to breathe, I consciously forced air into my tired lungs.

A quiet, guttural growl slipped hungrily over her lips as she placed both hands around the back of my head and pulled me in hard. Her midnight black lips were soft and sweet which was an unexpected pleasure. I’m not entirely sure what I thought the goddess of death would taste like but I was ecstatic to find her warm and inviting regardless. As our embrace became more impassioned our lips parted and our mouths searched each other out, tasting and feeling. We shared ragged breaths as our lips met and broke away again, and again. I tried to keep my lust in check but as I felt wave after wave of passion and godly power wash over me I eventually gave in. When our lips next met I let my teeth sink into her bottom lip, playfully yet hard. I pulled her lip, my eyes opened to see how she reacted.

Her own eyes were closed as she arched into me feeling the sweet pain through her body. I relaxed my bite and let her lip fall from my mouth. I began to kiss delicately along her jaw line, slowly, softly till I reached the nape of her her neck. Her fingers dug sharply into my back as I kissed and bit her sensitive flesh, and she let out a soft moan. With my nose being so close to her skin I couldn’t help but inhale the bitter sweet smell of her perfume. It reminded me of the halls of Hel I had recently visited. Funeral incense mixed with the smell of ash with a hint of sulphur. Somehow it worked for her and worked on me, it was intoxicating. I ran my lips along the nape of her neck, gently sweeping the pale white strands of hair away as I neared her shoulder. Slowly I let my hand fall from the back of her head and down to the top of her collar bone, griping the black zipper of her jacket and pulling it down.

I slid the black fabric from her shoulders exposing more pale, warm flesh and the plain black tank top she wore underneath. As I kissed my way back to her waiting lips my hands awkwardly helped hers remove the remains of the jacket. My worn and rough hands floated over the soft shirt fabric feeling the slight curves of her body. They danced teasingly around the sides of her breasts before running behind her hips and pulling her down onto the bed. She squealed at the sudden movement but quickly wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled me down with her, our lips locked together once again.

My body was stuck at a slightly uncomfortable angle so I pulled away to readjust. I paused for a moment to lean back and drink her in. Two tone hair spilled around the pillows, her pale cheeks flushed red, and her chest heaved with ragged breaths. What I thought was lipstick before couldn’t have been as her lips were still perfectly black, not a smear on them. I smiled over her, as I could feel my soul floating inside of me. I’m sure there could be some meta commentary on the fact that I was about to sleep with a goddess of death. Someone who has dogged death as regularly as myself embracing and enjoying the pleasures of the afterlife was either exceptionally disturbing or a reassertion of the human condition, but at that moment I didn't’ care. I quickly shucked off my shoes, socks and cuff-links before laying back down beside her.

Resting on my elbow, we exchanged a comfortable silence, our faces smiling at each other. Her eyes continued to glow with swirls of crimson dancing around black irises, my own presumably stayed a dull brown. My free hand snaked its way across her stomach and sought out the slither of flesh that showed between her top and jeans. She gasped at the brush of skin against skin, grabbing the back of my head pulling our lips together once again. I let my wandering hand explore her soft and silken body while I drank in the ecstasy of her kiss. She wrapped her injured leg around my leg, entangling us together. She winced slightly as her wound brushed up against me but it seemed that pleasure soon overcame any pain and she relaxed again.

Her own hands sought me out tugging at my shirt impatiently. Her breathless voice whispered ‘buttons’ when our lips parted. I obliged and quickly removed them as best I could. She grinned wickedly at me as I rushed the last few and discarded the shirt like last month’s eviction notice. It was my turn to be on the receiving end as she rolled me over. I laid back as she straddled my hips, running her surprisingly chill hands across my exposed chest. I grew against the warmth of her body as she leaned her weight onto me.

My hands moved under her top and lifted it up exposing her stomach and back to the room, and I pressed her body to mine. We both gasped at that touch of intimate skin on skin and redoubled our efforts, pushing our lips together till they almost hurt. I couldn’t wait much longer and pulled the rest of her top off over her head, my hand traced the back of her bra and unclasped it between my fingers. She obliged and slipped out of the simple black t-shirt bra and exposed her small, soft breasts to the cold air of the hotel room. I sat up as much as I could, my hands weaving along her back, pressing our bodies and lips together. The heady perfume she wore grew stronger and filled my senses, adding to the lust swirling through my mind. She was slowly moving against me, seeking out her own release from the tension we were building.

I left her lips and kissed my way down to the tops of her breasts, taking my time to taste every inch of her. She groaned and gasped as I lavished all my attention onto her body, I cupped her in my hands and let my tongue work her into a frenzy of lust and frustration. I must have hit a tension point as she grabbed my chin and brought me back up to her lips with a sigh of pleasure and relief. I moved a hand down to unfasten her jeans. She bit my bottom lip hard and I took it as a sign of enthusiastic consent. Never one to give up an opportunity to tease, I let my hand slide down her jeans following the curve of her body and ran it down over her underwear as she rocked to accommodate me. I could feel the heat radiate from her as I curled my hand around her mound. She fell forward, pushing me back into the lumpy hotel pillows. I didn’t resist.

She leaned in close and began kissing my neck, my hand still holding her hidden sex, feeling her pushing strongly against it. Her two tone hair fell in a curtain around us and I smiled as she nuzzled me. I felt one of her hands running along my chest and down towards my belt. She struggled a little giving a frustrated laugh.
‘Help!’ She said, her lips hovering over my ear. I struggled to focus on unbuckling my belt one handed while the blood rushed from my head and sent shivers dancing along my spine. Eventually I heard the click and felt my belt relax. I undid the button and fly just to make things easier. Judging by the way she slid her hand around my firmness it was a welcomed idea.

She ran her hand up and down me as I made small circles along the outside of her underwear, pressing harder every rotation. She had given up on kissing me, choosing instead to bury her head into my neck. Her warm breath and occasional brush of lips made it hard to hold back as I tried to ignore the building pleasure she was stirring below. When I couldn’t take it any more I slipped my hand under the cloth of her underwear and found her warm, wet, and waiting. Another guttural moan escaped her lips as I found her proper. My fingers softly exploring her lips, exposing the wet inner flesh of her body. She absently stopped stroking me as I found what I was looking for and traced slow, steady circles around it. She thrust hard against me and pushed her face deeper into my neck.

I groaned and pushed up to meet her. Soon it was too much even for me and gently removing my hand I deftly rolled her over, pinning her with my bulky frame. We found ourselves looking at each other again. My lips chapped but they still had a smile on them. She squirmed playfully under me pleading silently with her godly eyes. It was enough to melt my cold black heart if a mortal made those eyes at me, the fact that a god was doing it caused my poor heart to shatter into a thousand broken pieces.

Starting from her lips I quickly kissed my way down her body, stopping only to unbutton her jeans. I ran my tongue along her exposed waist line taunting her even more. I looked up and saw her eyes were closed. An arm held up bent over her head, leaning against the cheep headboard. I smiled at her scrunched up face and tugged firmly at her pants, pulling them down. I was careful to avoid aggravating her wound and soon she was naked before me. The soft, almost marble skin looked perfect, even against the horrific floral of the bedspread. I didn’t keep her waiting and began to kiss upwards from her uninjured calf till I had reached her waiting vulva. The smell of her warm sex filled my senses as my tongue flicked along her soft black down. She moaned in anticipation and wriggled beneath me, moving her legs apart to let me in.

Teasingly I kissed her inner thighs and skipped lightly over her waiting flesh to the other side. She sighed with disappointment and lust as I backtracked, this time planting soft kisses on her wet lips. I had teased enough and wanted to help release the built up tension, my tongue flicked along her length pushing its way into her. The taste of her filled my mouth and I moaned. The pleasure I took from this was almost as much as she received, almost. I curled my arms around the underside of her hips and held her tightly while I took my time to seek out her most pleasurable places.

I had barely started before her breaths came in quick, rapid succession. I started to slow down but a strong hand pushed my head down and I took the hint. The lady was in control now. I caressed her to climax, her back arching upwards as she yelled silently and deeply. My hands wrapped around her as my mouth tasted her sweet release. I almost laughed as a stray thought reminded me of the phrase ‘la petite mort’, the little death. I decided to keep it to myself lest it ruin the mood. The firm hand on my head turned soft and beckoned me upwards as I felt her body relax and settle back onto the bed. I kissed my way up her pale flesh till I found myself wrapped in her arms. She kissed me sweetly, half asleep with the wash of pleasure. I let her rest in my arms, kissing her head and softly stroking her naked body. She almost purred under me.

Just as I was starting to relax, forgetting for the moment my own desire she opened her eyes and smiled slyly. I smiled back as she unwrapped herself from me and pulled at my trousers. I helped her as much as I could an soon we were both naked, except for the large bandage on her leg. Her hands ran over my the hairs on my chest and stomach as she pressed her body into mine. I grew harder as her soft breasts slid against me. The black and white hair fell and mixed along my body, hiding her head behind a curtain of strands as she moved down towards my groin. I couldn’t see her but I quickly felt the wet warmth from her mouth as it enveloped me whole.

My hands swept away her hair and held her head gently as I watched her tease and tantalise my body. It took everything I had not to thrust upwards at her. I just wanted to wrap my arms around her body and be complete. I could feel her tongue caressing my aching body sending shivers of pleasure up into my tired head. It was too much and I relented, letting my mind focus on the pleasure rather than trying to resist it. The warmth from her mouth became my world and I started to see white before my eyes. My back arched on its own and I could feel myself coming closer.

Suddenly she stopped. I opened my eyes and looked down to see her crawling up along my prone body. Her eyes glowed a hazy red and the smile across her face told me to shut up and go with it. I swept back her hair, pulling her face to mine with a gentle hand. My other hand came to rest on her hip, curling around her soft skin tightly. As our tongues and lips met our bodies slid together, we both groaned with pleasure as we connected. My thoughts came in quick, jumbled blurs as we started to rock back and forth together.

We quickly gave up on our lips and I pulled her down to my chest holding her tightly. Her warm breath once again on my neck felt good and I stopped thinking. Rhythmically we moved together, searching for the release that ached us both. Her quick breaths turned into quiet moans which egged me on. Quickly I felt myself slip away as I hit the point of no return. She sensed my increased passion and responded by squeezing tighter. My lips sought hers hungrily as I peaked and welcomed the blinding rush of blood and endorphins that filled my brain. Seconds later she let out a yell and collapsed on top of me, happy, satisfied.

Afterwards we laid together for a while. Our bodies still locked together in a tangle of arms and legs enjoying the warm afterglow that life sometimes gives us. I lazily kissed the top of her head at the divide between black and white as she lay on my chest. Hel sighed deeply, stroking my chest absently. I hoped that the sigh was one of pleasure and not of regret, negative thoughts started to fill my brain but I tried to push them aside. Let me have this I told myself. Sure, she’s a goddess but it’s not like a mortal has never loved a deity before. Hel, where do you think demigods come from? She could feel the tension rising in my body and moved herself up to face me.

I stroked her hair softly as she nuzzled into the pillow. Despite the cool English night we were both quite warm, although I could feel the temperature slowly falling as my skin prickled. I stared into her eyes. Despite the odd colour they were captivating. They were wide like a cat’s and twice as intriguing. It’s said that gods move in mysterious ways and having looked deep into these godly eyes I could see that I would never be able to work out her motivations. I saw my own lust reflected back in her smile. There was nothing more I wanted to do than to spend eternity like this, camped in her arms forever locked in the delicious after glow of spent passion.

The quiet truth started to nag at the back of my heart. That pull telling you this won’t last and it’s all wrong. Images of Ness start to fill my mind but I pushed them back with reasons and excuses. This was a rare happy blip in my life and I just wanted to enjoy it as long as I could. Pain and repercussions will come and I’ll deal with them in turn. Now was my time. Now was when I felt at peace and could let the real world fall away, all those mistakes and excuses that fill my mind constantly could fall away for a few more hours. Just let me have this memory to hold onto.

I cleared my mind, choosing instead to focus on her and her alone. The joy I felt being near her was unimaginable. I knew it was partially some god-like power of hers echoing through my mortal bones but I was happy to take it. My mind was a confusing place and this moment of pure clarity was like finding a diamond in the street, stolen from the world but not entirely wrong. While I contemplated my life she smiled and rolled over, pulling me close and wrapping my arms around her small frame. We spooned together, naked and exposed but warm and safe in each others arms.
‘I haven’t done that in a long time.’ She said. Her eyes were shut and I kissed the back of her neck sweetly. ‘Thank you.’
‘No need to thank me, goddess. The pleasure was entirely mine I can assure you.’ I held her tighter and closed my own eyes as sleep inevitably started to creep over me. I thought I heard her mumble something in response but soon all I could hear was the sound of her breathing slowly and deeply. My arms on her chest rose and fell with each intake lulling me off to sleep. That night I dreamt of nothing. The pure sleep of a content man, something which I rarely got to experience in my life. For some reason I felt complete with her in my arms, and a little bit of love crept into my old broken heart.

Chapter Eleven...

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